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Geisinger Partners With Pharmas To Improve Diabetes Outcomes

Posted on October 10, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Geisinger has struck a deal with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop a risk-prediction model for three of the most common adverse outcomes from type 2 diabetes. The agreement is on behalf of Boehringer’s diabetes alliance with Eli Lilly and Company.

What makes this partnership interesting is that the players involved in this kind of pharma relationship are usually health plans. For example:

  • In May, UnitedHealth Group’s Optum struck a deal to model reimbursement models in which payment for prescription drugs is better structured to improve outcomes.
  • Earlier this year, Aetna cut a deal with Merck in which the two will use predictive analytics to identify target populations and offer them specialized health and wellness services. The program started by focusing on patients with diabetes and hypertension in the mid-Atlantic US.
  • Another example is the 2015 agreement between Harvard Pilgrim health plan and Amgen, in which the pharma would pay rebates if its cholesterol-control medication Repatha didn’t meet agreed-upon thresholds.

As the two organizations note in their joint press statement, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death associated with diabetes, and diabetes is the top cause of kidney failure in the U.S. population. Cardiovascular complications alone cost the U.S. more than $23 billion per year, and roughly 68 percent of deaths in people with type 2 diabetes in the U.S. are caused by cardiovascular disease.

The two partners hope to improve the odds for diabetics by identifying their condition quickly and treating it effectively.

Under the Geisinger/Boehringer agreement, the partners will attempt to predict which adults with type 2 diabetes are most likely to develop kidney failure, undergo hospitalization for heart failure or die from cardiovascular causes.

To improve the health of diabetics, the partners will develop predictive risk models using de-identified EHR data from Geisinger. The goal is to develop more precise treatment pathways for people with type 2 diabetes, and see that the pathways align with quality guidelines.

Though this agreement itself doesn’t have a value-based component, it’s likely that health systems like Geisinger will take up health plans’ strategies for lowering spend on medications, as the systems will soon be on the hook for excess spending.

After all, according to a KPMG survey, value-based contracts are becoming a meaningful percentage of health system revenue. The survey found that while value-based agreements aren’t dominant, 36 percent of respondents generated some of their revenue from value-based payments and 14 percent said the majority of revenue is generated by value-based payments.

In the meantime, partnerships like this one may help to improve outcomes for expensive, prevalent conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and heart disease. Expect to see more health systems strike such agreements in the near future.

Key Big Data Challenges Providers Must Face

Posted on July 17, 2015 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Everybody likes to talk about the promise of big data, but managing it is another story. Taming big data will take new strategies and new IT skills, neither of which are a no-brainer, according to new research by the BPI Network.

While BPI Network has identified seven big data pain points, I’d argue that they boil down to just a few key issues:

* Data storage and management:  While providers may prefer to host their massive data stores in-house, this approach is beginning to wear out, at least as the only strategy in town. Over time, hospitals have begun moving to cloud-based solutions, at least in hybrid models offloading some of their data. As they cautiously explore outsourcing some of their data management and storage, meanwhile, they have to make sure that they have security locked down well enough to comply with HIPAA and repel hackers.

Staffing:  Health IT leaders may need to look for a new breed of IT hire, as the skills associated with running datacenters have shifted to the application level rather than data transmission and security levels. And this has changed hiring patterns in many IT shops. When BPI queried IT leaders, 41% said they’d be looking for application development pros, compared with 24% seeking security skills. Ultimately, health IT departments will need staffers with a different mindset than those who maintained datasets over the long term, as these days providers need IT teams that solve emerging problems.

Data and application availability: Health IT execs may finally be comfortable moving at least some of their data into the cloud, probably because they’ve come to believe that their cloud vendor offers good enough security to meet regulatory requirements. But that’s only a part of what they need to consider. Whether their data is based in the cloud or in a data center, health IT departments need to be sure they can offer high data availability, even if a datacenter is destroyed. What’s more, they also need to offer very high availability to EMRs and other clinical data-wrangling apps, something that gets even more complicated if the app is hosted in the cloud.

Now, the reality is that these problems aren’t big issues for every provider just yet. In fact, according to an analysis by KPMG, only 10% of providers are currently using big data to its fullest potential. The 271 healthcare professionals surveyed by KPMG said that there were several major barriers to leveraging big data in their organization, including having unstandardized data in silos (37%), lacking the right technology infrastructure (17%) and failing to have data and analytics experts on board (15%).  Perhaps due to these roadblocks, a full 21% of healthcare respondents had no data analytics initiatives in place yet, though they were at the planning stages.

Still, it’s good to look at the obstacles health IT departments will face when they do take on more advanced data management and analytics efforts. After all, while ensuring high data and app availability, stocking the IT department with the right skillsets and implementing a wise data management strategy aren’t trivial, they’re doable for CIOs that plan ahead. And it’s not as if health leaders have a choice. Going from maintaining an enterprise data warehouse to leveraging health data analytics may be challenging, but it’s critical to make it happen.

Hospitals, Health Systems Don’t Feel Prepared For Meaningful Use Stage 2

Posted on December 31, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A new survey by KPMG confirms what most us would have guessed — that hospital and health system leaders aren’t that sure they’re ready to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.

The study, which was conducted last month, found that 47 percent of hospital and health system business leaders surveyed were only somewhat confident in their readiness to meet Stage 2 requirements. Just over one-third (36 percent) said they were confident, and four percent weren’t confident at all, KPMG found. Another 11 percent said they didn’t know what their level of readiness was.

Respondents are also worried about meeting privacy and security standards included in both Stage 2 and HIPAA. Forty-seven percent of respondents were only somewhat comfortable with their organization’s ability to meet all parts of HIPAA, including the need for new annual risk assessments and protecting patient-identifiable information. Eight percent of respondents said they weren’t comfortable at all, 13  percent said they weren’t sure and 31 percent said they were comfortable, KPMG reported.

To help close the readiness gap, hospitals and health systems are bringing in outside help. Thirty percent of respondents said their organization had hired new or additional team members to help complete EMR deployment. And 22 percent said they’d hired outside contractors to get the job done.

So why are so many healthcare business leaders insecure about Stage 2?  When asked to name the biggest challenge in complying with Stage 2 requirements, 29 percent cited training and change management issues.

Tied for second were lack of monitoring processes to ensure sustained demonstration of MU, and capturing relevant data as part of the clinical workflow, at 19 percent each. Twelve percent named lack of a dedicated Meaningful Use team, and 6 percent availability of appropriate certified vendor technology. Fourteen percent said “other.”

No Duh. EMR Implementation Costs Too Much

Posted on July 13, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Courtesy of Information Week, we get the following news: apparently, EMRs cost too much. Stop the presses!

IW magazine has shared data from a poll by KPMG in which the consulting giant surveyed  more than 220 hospital and health system administrators. Now, it’s not all bad news. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they were very comfortable with the funding they had for their EMR rollout.

On the other hand, researchers found that 48 percent of respondents were only somewhat comfortable with the budget levels their system planned for EMR deployment, and 9 percent said they weren’t comfortable at all. This despite the fact that 49 percent of the interviewees are more than halfway through their projects.

This suggests a few things, none of which are terribly heartening:

* That roughly half of hospitals and health systems didn’t budget enough or plan for the marathon effort it would take to get these giant engines running smoothly.

* That Meaningful Use incentives, while lovely and all, aren’t doing enough to defray hospital costs.

* That senior hospital and health system managers don’t have a very realistic picture of what it will to keep feeding the EMR beast for the long- term.

* That hospitals won’t even consider appreciably cheaper alternatives like Open Vista (a story in an of itself)

Mind you, it’s easy to forget that hindsight is 20/20, and that industry changes keep throwing these leaders curves. Predicting what an enterprise software installation will cost five years from now is half black art, half SWAG. So I’m not beating up on the CIOs.

I’m just surprised that anyone would be taken aback by the news that CIOs aren’t sure they can pay for all of this EMR wonderfulness.  I mean, honestly, are you?

Hospitals Say Meaningful Use Compliance Remains A Big Challenge

Posted on April 26, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Sure, EMR use is picking up rapidly across the U.S.  But is the process going well? Maybe not, according to a new poll released by audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG LLP.

According to KPMG, 48 percent of hospitals and health system respondents said they were confident they could reach Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements. Meanwhile, 39 percent were somewhat confident and 3 percent weren’t confident at all.

Perhaps most strikingly, 10 percent didn’t know what their level of readiness was. (If I were a health system CEO, those folks would bother me the most; not even knowing is a dangerous state of affairs.)

So what’s holding them back?

*  25 percent said they just aren’t sure how to demonstrate MU
*  20 percent said training and change management were concerns
*  18 percent said they weren’t confident they could capture relevant data from clinical workflows
*  12 percent weren’t ready since they don’t have a Meaningful Use team in place
*  Six percent said they didn’t have the right certified technology yet

It’s not that the hospitals IT folks are sitting on their hands. Researchers at KPMG found that 71 percent of the hospitals and health systems were more than 50 percent of the way to finalizing EMR adoption.  But that apparently hasn’t been enough to reassure them that they’re on the mark where Meaningful Use is concerned.

The whole thing sounds like a trainwreck waiting to happen, in my view. I say, let’s pause a bit and really take these numbers seriously — providers are struggling out there! — before hospitals waste more money and time messing around and feeling clobbered.